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GSK sells more brands – Roche abandons Illumina chase – And Lonza to develop bee silk products
PHARMACEUTICAL – The reports are confirmed: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is looking to buy long term partner Human Genome Sciences (HGS). The UK pharma giant offered $2.6 billion (£1.6 billion) but was immediately rebuffed by HGS, which said ‘the offer does not reflect the value inherent in HGS’. The two companies have worked together for over 20 years on several products, including the development of Benlysta (benlimumab) products, the first new treatment for lupus erythematosus in half a century. Benlimumab, a monoclonal antibody, was approved by US authorities in March 2011, and analysts are predicting peak sales of $3–7 million per year.
PHARMACEUTICAL – In other areas, GSK has had more success. Specifically, it has offloaded more of the over-the-counter portfolio it has had in the shop window since February 2011. It is to sell a set of brands that includes Phillips MOM, Solpadeine, Dequadin, Cartia and Zantac to Aspen Pharmacare for £164 million in cash. Last month, GSK sold a €470 million (£391 million) chunk that included Lactacyd, Abtei, Solpadeine, Zantac, Nytol and Beconase to Belgian company Omega Pharma. Under the terms of the deal, Omega acquired the manufacturing site in Herrenberg, Germany, which employs 110 people. GSK is still waiting to find someone to take weight loss brand Alli (orlistat) off its hands.
PHARMACEUTICAL – After much back and forth, Roche has decided to abandon its high profile pursuit of gene sequencing company Illumina. The gambit floundered when the Illumina shareholders blocked Roche’s attempt to have the directors replaced with a group favourable to the takeover. ‘We continue to hold Illumina and its management in very high regard,’ said Roche boss Severin Schwan. Roche had increased its offer on 29 March to $51.00 per share in cash, equivalent to $6.8 billion – but it found no traction. The offer is set to expire today.
CHEMICAL – The recent explosion at an Evonik site, which killed two people, is threatening to leave the automotive industry short of nylon resin needed for brakes and fuel systems, according to Reuters. Evonik says the cyclododecatriene (CDT) plant in Marl, Germany, won’t be operational again for at least three months. CDT is needed to make nylon 12, the type of nylon the automotive industry needs. According to C&EN, Evonik was not only a major source of nylon 12, but a source of CDT for other companies, such as French speciality chemical company Arkema. Analysts say that supply was running low before the accident – the situation is likely to become serious.
CHEMICAL – Bees make silk. Who knew? Well, a bunch of researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia did, and they’ve convinced Swiss speciality chemicals company Lonza to help them develop products based on the stuff. The potential applications for the light, tough and strong fibres include materials for: plane and boat construction; wound repair; drug delivery; and human tissues repair (membranes, ligaments, blood vessels, cartilage).